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529 account beneficiaries

Posted by Andrew Chan  October 25, 2010 05:00 PM

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Can you have more than one beneficiary of a 529 plan?

A 529 Plan account can have only one beneficiary. While there are two general types of 529 plans – a college savings plan or prepaid tuition plan, both require an account owner to designate a single beneficiary. However, you can generally, change the beneficiary of an account from one family member to another.

The ability to change beneficiaries on an account can provide some flexibility with how you save for each child. For example, if you establish one account for each child, you can fund and manage each account independently based on the needs of each child. You can choose to be more aggressive in funding one account over the other based on when each child is expected to attend college.

On the other hand, if you establish a single account for multiple children, you can avoid having to decide how much to fund for each child but you may lose some flexibility on matching the investment portfolio to when your child is going to attend school. Typically, you want to match the investment portfolio in the 529 account to when your child is expected to start college. The goal is to reduce the investment risk in the portfolio as your child gets closer to withdrawing funds from the account. If you have one account with intentions of serving multiple children you may not have the option to choose multiple investment portfolios for each child.

Keep in mind that 529 plans are investments vehicles and, as with any investment, you need to consider the investment’s objectives, risks, costs, and tax consequences before investing or implementing a specific investment strategy.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

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D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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